Importance of Social Skills In 'To the Lighthouse'
To the Lighthouse is a novel written by Virginia Woolf which was published in 1927. The novel is divided into three parts: ‘The Window’, ‘Time Passes’, and ‘The Lighthouse’. The story centres on Mr. Ramsay, a philosopher, and his significant other, an acclaimed delight, both in middle age, are staying with their eight kids and different guests and their trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, just before the start of the World War I. In the final, a dubious connection is made afresh between the characters, and amongst at various times. Mrs. Ramsay as the female grown-up character, sees life more instinctively. What she values most throughout everyday life, and what she wanted to make, is union, especially supporting her children and her better half with affection and sensitivity. Woolf uncovers Mrs. Ramsay as a character to represent how essential crucial social skills.
Abrams divides narrative and narratology by definition: “A narrative is a story, whether in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do” (Abrams, 1993). And narratology: “A recent concern with narrative in general. It deals especially with the identification of structural elements and their diverse modes of combination, with recurrent narrative devices, and with the analysis of the kinds of discourse by which a narrative gets told” (Abrams, 1993). So in general, narratology aims to analyze the structure of narratives.
According to Genette (1988), focalization is “So by focalization I certainly mean a restriction of a ‘field’ — actually that is, a selection of narrative information with respect to what was traditionally called omniscience.” He distinguishes 3 kinds of focalization, which is:
Zero focalization: The narrator knows more than the characters. This is the traditional “omniscient narrator.”
- Internal focalization: The narrator knows as much as the focal character.
- External focalization: The narrator knows less than the characters.
Rimmon-Kenan (1994) differentiates focalizer and narrator by “In principle, focalization and narration are distinct activities. In so-called ‘third-person centre of consciousness’, the centre of consciousness is the focalizer, while the user of the third person is the narrator. Focalization and narration are also separate in first person retrospective narratives.”
In To the Lighthouse, Woolf uses external focalization to narrate the novel while Mrs. Ramsay is the focalizer. In the novel, Mrs. Ramsay portrayed as someone who possesses the awareness and intuitive feeling of the most important thing in life and the crucial social skills, which are the value of human relationships, the sake of the whole family, respect and love of her children, and the continued survival of her family and marriage.
As it can be seen on the quotation:
“And it was then too, in that chill and windy way, as she began to paint, that there forced themselves upon her other things, her own inadequacy, her insignificance, keeping house for her father off the Brompton Road, and had much ado to control her impulse to fling herself (thank Heaven she had always resisted so far) at Mrs Ramsay’s knee and say to her—but what could one say to her? ‘I’m in love with you?’ No, that was not true. ‘I’m in love with this all,’ waving her hand at the hedge, at the house, at the children. It was absurd, it was impossible” (Woolf, 1927: 17)
In this part, Lily is enchanted and in love with Mrs. Ramsay’s way of life.
“And what then? For she felt that he was still looking at her, but that his look had changed. He wanted something—wanted the thing she always found it so difficult to give him; wanted her to tell him that she loved him. And that, no, she could not do. He found talking so much easier than she did. He could say things—she never could. So naturally it was always he that said the things, and then for some reason he would mind this suddenly, and would reproach her. A heartless woman he called her; she never told him that she loved him. But it was not so—it was not so. It was only that she never could say what she felt. Was there no crumb on his coat? Nothing she could do for him? Getting up, she stood at the window with the reddish-brown stocking in her hands, partly to turn away from him, partly because she remembered how beautiful it often is—the sea at night. But she knew that he had turned his head as she turned; he was watching her. She knew that he was thinking, You are more beautiful than ever. And she felt herself very beautiful. Will you not tell me just for once that you love me? He was thinking that, for he was roused, what with Minta and his book, and its being the end of the day and their having quarrelled about going to the Lighthouse. But she could not do it; she could not say it. Then, knowing that he was watching her, instead of saying anything she turned, holding her stocking, and looked at him. And as she looked at him she began to smile, for though she had not said a word, he knew, of course he knew, that she loved him. He could not deny it. And smiling she looked out of the window and said (thinking to herself, Nothing on earth can equal this happiness)— ‘Yes, you were right. It’s going to be wet tomorrow. You won’t be able to go.’ And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again. She had not said it: yet he knew.” (Woolf, 1927: 99)
In this part, Mrs. Ramsay can’t express her affection for Mr. Ramsay with words, yet she loves him. In spite of the fact that as I would like to think, her affection for Mr. Ramsay does not should be communicated in words but rather her activity towards her better half does with the end goal for it to be caught on.
“…when the great clangour of the gong announced solemnly, authoritatively, that all those scattered about, in attics, in bedrooms, on little perches of their own, reading, writing, putting the last smooth to their hair, or fastening dresses, must leave all that, and the little odds and ends on their washing-tables and dressing tables, and the novels on the bed-tables, and the diaries which were so private, and assemble in the dining-room for dinner.” (Woolf, 1927: 69)
In this part, I think that when it comes to having a feast, Mrs. Ramsay believed that the entire family must gather together to the dining room and have a family time, regardless of what they are doing at the time of the feast.
“A bit of a hypocrite? she repeated. Oh, no—the most sincere of men, the truest (here he was), the “best; but, looking down, she thought, he is absorbed in himself, he is tyrannical, he is unjust; and kept looking down, purposely, for only so could she keep steady, staying with the Ramsays. Directly one looked up and saw them, what she called ‘being in love’ flooded them. They became “part of that unreal but penetrating and exciting universe which is the world seen through the eyes of love. The sky stuck to them; the birds sang through them. And, what was even more exciting, she felt, too, as she saw Mr Ramsay bearing down and retreating, and Mrs Ramsay sitting with James in the window and the cloud moving and the tree bending, how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach.” (Woolf, 1927: 39-40)
In this part, I think that Lily observes Mr. Ramsay and Mrs. Ramsay as the ideal couple in adoration. “So boasting of her capacity to surround and protect, there was scarcely a shell of herself left for her to know herself by; all was so lavished and spent; and James, as he stood stiff between her knees, felt her rise in a rosy-flowered fruit tree laid with leaves and dancing boughs into which the beak of brass, the arid scimitar of his father, the egotistical man, plunged and smote, demanding sympathy.
Filled with her words, like a child who drops off satisfied, he said, at last, looking at her with humble gratitude, restored, renewed, that he would take a turn; he would watch the children playing cricket. He went.
Immediately, Mrs Ramsey seemed to fold herself together, one petal closed in another, and the whole fabric fell in exhaustion upon itself, so that she had only strength enough to move her finger, in exquisite abandonment to exhaustion, across the page of Grimm’s fairy story, while there throbbed through her, like a pulse in a spring which has expanded to its full width and now gently ceases to beat, the rapture of successful creation.” (Woolf, 1927: 33)
In this part, Mrs. Ramsay puts priority every other person’s needs over her own, making her self-personality shrivel. In other words, I think that not every social skill that Mrs. Ramsay has, effects her life in a positive way.
In conclusion, in the novel “To the Lighthouse,” Virginia Woolf wanted to show how crucial social skills affects the way of life, through her presentation of how individuals experience life. Mainly focused on Mrs. Ramsay, who considers it to be one of her real undertakings to guarantee and ensure that everybody is sociable and happy.
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